Dropbox – US Visa Interview Program Waiver in India for F1, H1B, L1 Visa

Raghuram Sukumar USA Visa 46 Comments

US Visa Interview Waiver or Dropbox program was introduced in 2012. Since then several thousands of US visa interview applicants have utilized the dropbox in India.

In this article lets look at some aspects of getting US visa stamp via Dropbox:

  1. The USA Visa Interview Waiver Program – Dropbox in India
  2. Dropbox Eligiblity and Qualifications
  3. Pros and Cons of Dropbox
  4. Overview of Dropbox Process
  5. Administrative Processing – 221g via Dropbox
  6. Documents Required for Dropbox
  7. Dropbox Processing Times
  8. Is dropbox canceled?
  9. FAQ’s About Visa Waiver Interviews

USA Visa Interview Waiver Program – Dropbox

In March 2012, US Embassy announced Visa Interview Waiver program for certain visa categories for qualified individuals. Later, the dropbox program (Visa Interview program) in India have been expanded to include H1B Visa, H4 Visa, L1A, L1B, B1/B2 Visa and F1 Visa.

The US Visa renewal application must be within the same classification as the previous visa. If the previous visa is annotated with the words “clearance received,” that applicant is not eligible for a dropbox.

Dropbox in India – Qualifications

Eligibility for dropbox depends on your current and previous visa status. Here’s q quick overview of steps required to find out if you qualify for dropbox in India:

  1. Complete DS-160
  2. Create an Account to Schedule Visa Interview at USTravelDocs
  3. Complete your profile and start the process to schedule the interview
  4. You will be notified at the end of the questionnaire if you are eligible for the dropbox

So, what questions do that ask to find the eligibility?

Eligibility Criteria for all applicants except child below 14 years and applicant above 80 years of age:

  • I have a previous U.S. visa in the same class as the visa for which I wish to renew
  • My most recent visa was issued in India
  • I received my visa after August 1, 2004 but before January 2, 2008
  • My prior visa is not annotated “Clearance Received” or “Department Authorization”.
  • My most recent visa (in the same class for which I am applying) was issued on or after my 14th birthday
  • I have no refusals for a visa in any category after my most recent visa issuance
  • If I am applying for an H or L (individual) or R visa, my prior visa in the same class is still valid or expired within the last 12 months.
  • OR
  • My prior visa in the same class is still valid or expired within the last 12 months.
  • Note: Blanket L1 visa applicants do not qualify for Interview Waiver Program, but Blanket L2 spouses are eligible.
    If I am applying for an F visa, am continuing as a student at the same school for which my previous visa was issued.
    If I am applying for a J visa, my current DS-2019 is issued by the same institution as the institution listed on my previous visa

Note: Using the interview waiver or drop box service does not guarantee visa issuance. In some cases, you may be required to appear for a visa interview at the U.S. Embassy/Consulate, for example, if you submit an incomplete and/or inaccurate application. Submit your application well in advance of your planned travel to allow for the possibility that a visa interview will be necessary.

If you meet the requirements for interview waiver – dropbox

  • Schedule an appointment at OFC for fingerprints and photo

Documents Required for Dropbox Submission

If you qualify for dropbox submission, you will receive a dropbox submission letter containing a document checklist. Print two copies of the dropbox confirmation letter and insert the following documents into the dropbox package, then seal the package:

  • One photograph that was taken within the last six months (conforming to the guidelines)
  • Supporting documentation in original and one photocopy required for your visa type
  • Children applying through IWP or drop-box should submit photocopies of their parents’ visas.
  • Dropboxconfirmation letter
  • Current passport that has a validity of at least six months beyond your intended stay in the U.S. (all categories)
  • Passport containing most recently issued U.S. visa;
  • The DS-160 nonimmigrant visa application confirmation sheet (all categories)
  • Original MRV fee receipt for the visa processing (all categories)
  • One photograph on a white background, 2 x 2 inches (all categories)
  • Copy of I-20 (F1/F2, M1/M2)
  • Original DS-2019 (J1/J2)
  • Copy of SEVIS I-901 fee payment receipt (principal F, M, J)
  • Copy of your CDC (Continuous Discharge Certificate) book/employment contract (for C1/D)
  • A copy of I-797 Approval Notice for H1B and H4.


  • Don’t use the same photo from the previous visa stamped on the passport.
  • If you wear glasses, then for visa, you should remove them (new requirement since 2016)

Advantages of Dropbox

Dropbox has both Pros and Cons.  Let’s look at some advantages of Visa renewal via dropbox:

  • Saves Time and Money: If you are going to India for US Visa Renewal, and qualify for dropbox, it could save you one day of stay in the city were U.S. Consulate is located.
  • No In-Person Interview: Attending Visa interview is not something everyone is fond of. Getting U.S. Visa stamped in the passport without in-person visa interview is double sweet. I’m sure you agree on this.
  • Save Resources in the US Consulate: Resources required to manage the operations at the U.S. consulate is not to be taken lightly in busier U.S. Consulates. If they can process visa renewal without In-Person Interview, they can handle more new visa applicants and lower wait times to get appointments for those who are required to attend the in-person visa interview.

Disadvantages of Dropbox: Administrative Processing (221g)

Administrative Processing is the dreaded and most feared word for U.S. Visa interview attendees. Administrative Processing (221g),  I think this is going to be the biggest disadvantage of  Visa Renewal via dropbox.

Dropbox H1B Visa Experience

Here’s an example of documents requested by the U.S. Consulate for 221g on H1B Visa Renewal. As you can see, they have selected pretty much all the documents in the checklist 221g form checklist.

dropbox 221g h1b visa renewal us consulate chennai


What does this leave you with? Scrambling to collect all the documents.

What if you working as Full-Time Employee and don’t have a client letter?

What if you End Client will not provide a Client Letter?

Now, a number of people involved in the process to collect the required documentation just went up from you to your spouse, manager, HR, Immigration Attorney and others.

Then, you have to make a trip back to the U.S. Consulate once you have the required documentation and attend the interview or email them to the specific email address as suggested to you case.

In meantime, your trip to India just became a roller coaster ride. In the end, things should work out in your favor, but there’s going to be some sleepless nights in this due process.

Dropbox with 221g Processing Times

  • Day 1: Submit passport and documents at OFC
  • Day 2 to 3: Case Created and Administrative Processing
  • Day 3 to 7: Collect required documents and attend interview
  • Day 4 to 10: Visa Approval and Passport Pickup

When you have 221g on dropbox and required to attend the interview, typically you will be asked to walk-in to the consulate with 221g slip without scheduling the visa interview. 

As you can see dropbox has it’s advantages and disadvantages. We don’t know how many US visa renewal applicants results in Administrative Processing but considering the advantages it offers, even 10% 221(g) would result in much faster and smoother operations at U.S. consulate (my guess).

Dropbox Processing Time

Processing time for visa renewal via dropbox depends on 221g and regular processing time for the specific consulate.

Here’s typical and expected processing time for dropbox

  • Day 1: Submit passport and documents at OFC
  • Day 2 to 3: Case Created and Administrative Processing
  • Day 3 to 5: Case Issued

If you don’t get 221g on your dropbox visa application, you should get the visa status changed to “Issued” within the posted US Visa Processing Time. One recent H1B Visa and H4 Visa renewal via dropbox were issued the next day and passport was collected in 3 days.

Is Dropbox canceled in India

Is Dropbox Cancelled or discontinued due to Trump’s Executive Order in India? This is stated in the Travel Ban “Sec. 8. Visa Interview Security. (a) The Secretary of State shall immediately suspend the Visa Interview Waiver Program and ensure compliance with section 222 of the INA, 8 U.S.C. 1222, which requires that all individuals seeking a nonimmigrant visa undergo an in-person interview, subject to specific statutory exceptions.”

Short Answer – No. President Trump Executive Order on Travel Ban is blocked by a Federal Judge. In fact, I know few friends who went to India for H1B Visa Renewal in U.S. Consulate in Hyderabad and get H1B Renewal via Dropbox in the month of Feb to April 2017.

FAQ’s About Visa Waiver Interview

1. I’m going to attend H4 visa interview and I wanted to know if I can apply for dropbox without my spouse?

Yes. You can go for dropbox when you are are traveling along for stamping. As long as US Travel Docs site says that you are eligible, you shouldn’t have any problem.  When you go through the process of scheduling the interview appointment, if you get a message like this “Congrats you qualify for Dropbox”, then you are eligible for dropbox in one of 11 locations in India.

2. My previous H1B visa was stamped in Canada. Would I be eligible for dropbox in Mumbai Consulate for H1B renewal stamping?

One condition for visa interview waiver is that your previous visa should be stamped in the same U.S. consulate. Under that criteria, you will not be able to get dropbox option in Mumbai. Plus, there’s no dropbox in Canada if you appear the for the second time in the same consulate in the Canada.

3. I’m going for H1B Visa renewal and I’m eligible for dropbox. Should I submit original I-797 approval notice for the dropbox?

You don’t have to submit the original I-797 Approval Notice when submitting the Passport after OFC. I believe you may need original only for J visa interview. But, you can validate that during OFC appointment. In either case, you are required to carry the original and photocopy of all the required documents for OFC.

Share Your Dropbox Experience

Did you get your US visa renewed via Dropbox, share your dropbox experience.




  1. Hi Raghu,

    Do you have any idea, whats the processing time, if i submit my H1b renewal thru IWP dropbox.

  2. if I want travel abroad within 1 week of arriving in India, is it advisable to schedule a face to face interview, even though I qualify for dropbox? because I can not find the time period it takes for return of passport?

  3. Hello,

    I just came from Stats on j1 visa I been there for my internship so can I renew my J1 too !!!

  4. hi, I was trying to get visa interview scheduled, by mistake selected yes for drop box option and got confirmed. but i am not eligible for dropbox. i am 27 yr old. can i use for the different option for interview and can use the same recipt?

  5. Hi Raghu,

    I have a question, We are applying for H4 Visa (H1B Extension got approved) for my kid, since he is under 4 year old he is eligible for drop box.

    However myself and my wife doesn’t have a valid visa in our passports at this moment. My wife is also applying for H4 visa and interview got scheduled.

    So, would like to know do we really need to have valid visa in parents passport to apply for drop box?

    Is it a good idea to apply through drop box for before my wife H4 visa stamped in her passport after interview?

    Please clarify on this.

    1. Author

      If your wife is applying for interview, schedule group interview and forget about the dropbox.

  6. Hi,

    Hi i went to India on Jan 2015 and got Visa stamping with XYZ employer. Visa with XYZ employer was valid till Sep 30 2015. I changed my employer to ABC from October 2015 . If i plan for India trip in Aug 2016, am i still eligible for drop box process.

    Is there anyone facing same case? I heard from some of my friends, since its change of employer, I should attend interview. As i have marriage plans, please kindly reply to this message ASAP.

    In this blog, it says, change of employer case, needs to attend interview.
    Is this updated?


  7. Hi Raghu,
    I tried to post a question of my own through the ‘ask Raghu a question’ link but the webpage I was directed to has some issues. I am unable to ask a question here. Since my question is related to F1 visa renewal I believe I can post the question here. If you are unable to answer my question here just direct to the right link that works where I can post the question.
    I believe I won’t be eligible for interview waiver program since I am pursuing my studies in a university different than the one I was issued the visa for. So I believe I have to go through the standard procedure for F1 visa renewal which will include interview in US consulate in India. Do you know what documents I will require for the interview process? I can think of I-20, proof of funding, passport etc. but if there is anything which I am not aware of please let me know.

  8. Hi Raghu,

    Do change of employer in H1B change eligibility for dropbox?

    Thanks and Regards

  9. Hi there, this weekend is nice in favor of me, since this point
    in time i am reading this wonderful educational article here at my home.

  10. Hi,

    My parents need to renew their visitor visa(B1/B2) and I believe they are eligible for the interview waiver program. They live in Karnataka so they need to go to Chennai Consulate. However, they live very close to Hyderabad, so can they use the Hyderabad Dropbox facility instead of Chennai?

  11. HI Raghu,

    For first time h1b visa stamping ..

    Do you have previous h1b visa ? yes or no
    while booking appointment

  12. Hi,
    I got reinstatement of F1 approved while in USA. Now i am planning to visit India next month. Can i use dropbox facility to do visa stamping. If yes, can you explain me the procedure to do it.

    Appreciate your help.
    Aparna J

  13. Hi Raghu,
    I applied B1/B2 visa or my parents and I get a confirmation that they are eligible for interview waiver program. However we didnt receive any dropbox confirmation letter comprising of the check list.
    How should we get the dropbox confirmation letter ?

  14. Hi Raghu,

    I got my H4 status approved in July 2017 while residing in the US , I had originally got my first H4 stamped in New Delhi, India in Apr 2016.
    Would I be eligible for the dropbox facility for re-stamping in Mumbai along with my husband (H1b holder also applying? or would I have to apply in New Delhi itself?

    Thanks in advance!

  15. Hi Raghu,
    I’m on a H1B visa with ABC employer, my employer was acquired by another employer in Jan 2017 namely XYZ.
    XYZ applied for my H1B visa extension which got approved in July 2017, will I be eligible for the dropbox facility in Mumbai (same place as 1st H1B stamping) ?
    Thank you,
    Sid Sharma

    1. Author

      Complete the questionnaire in ustraveldcocs site. It will display if you are eligible.

  16. Hello ! This information is highly useful since not many people have updated any info on Dropbox in 2017.
    I came to US for MS in 2012 and am doing PhD in same university now. My visa expired in June 2017 and I want to renew in Jan 2018.

    a)I filled the DS 160
    b) I went to the UStraveldocs website and filled all the details with DS 160 confirmation number and I got the screen which says I am eligible for dropbox.

    I wanted to ask the next steps:
    1) Do I have to pay DS 160 fees or/and Sevis ?
    2) How early can I book an appointment for dropbox?


  17. Hi Raghu,
    this is regarding visitors visa for my children who is under 14. Both me and my husband has valid visitor’s Visa and planning to visit US in the end of year with children. Are they eligible to apply drop box visa? what documents do they need to apply and how long the process will take?

    1. Yes they are eligible for drop box. Fill DS-160 and pay required fee (better at bank rather than online) and then schedule your appointment at for dropbox. Simple and easy method.

  18. Hi Raghu,

    I came to the US in Oct 2015 on a fresh H1B. I am going to India in mid Dec 2017 and have a H1B visa transfer (since I changed my company). My current H1B is valid till October 2018 but the stamp on my passport is of my previous company. I had filled the application online in July 2017 and was eligible for drop box. Will there be issues due to the long time difference between when I applied for drop box and when I will be going to India.
    Thanks in advance.

  19. Hi, I am apply for H4 stamping and i am eligible for drop box. I have submitted all required documents, after 1 days of submission my husband reviewed DS 160 form again and came to know that he has given principal applicant name as my Name instead of his name. what should we do now, when i check status online it shows passport is with Consulate. is there any way to contact them and correct the information. Do they reject the visa. Please help.

  20. Hello, I applied for a b1/b2 visa renewal via drop box in September and two weeks later my passport was returned with my previous visa cancelled without prejudice and a form 221 g given to me to stating I should come in in person to speak to an interviewing officer with my passport and form 221g. Please what does this mean . I need clarification. Thanks

  21. Hello Raghu,

    My petition qualify for dropbox as per the cgi website. So i completed ds 160, paid the visa fee and got the confirmation letter. In ds 160 for the question about being ten printed, I answered NO as I was not sure about it. Now with dropbox option, do I need to ten print again because of my answer in DS 160? I got my last visa stamped in 2015 and had the biometrics then.

    1. Author

      Yes, for Dropbox, you will be tenprinted when you go to submit the application.

  22. I am applying for H4 Dropbox but visa got refused and I got blue slip of 221g and was just mentioned to meet the counselor. Can u please suggest any documents I hve to carry and should I go through biometric?

    1. Author

      Take all the required documents that you would normally take with your Visa Interview. Be prepared for questions about your Spouse H1B Visa and Employer. Take his pay stubs, employment verification letter, copy of I-797 for H1B. If you are on H4 EAD, then take EAD card and pay stubs if working. Good Luck.

  23. I applied for B1/B2 thru Dropbox and got a 221G along with my passport asking me to schedule a appointment. My current B1/B2 Visa is valid for 2 more months and I was applying before it expired.
    1. Is my current Visa still valid? It wasn’t stamped “cancelled without prejudice”
    2. Does this mean I will not get new Visa?

  24. Can some one else drop the documents to consulate for drop box? Or the applicant has to go personally ?

  25. Hello,
    My wife has submitted docs @dropbox,Hyderabad for H4 visa stamping on 30th May 2018. It’s been almost 10days and when I check the track passport, it says “Your passport is still with the US Embassy/consulate”. I checked the visa status online and it shows as Case created: 31May, Last Updated: Jun1 with “Admin Processing”. She has current H4 valid till Sep 5 2018 too and (am on H1b with same employer and have the extension till Aug 2019)and it’s been many times she had H4 earlier and we got passports in a week. Am not sure why they are showing this status this time. Any idea, how long does it take to get further update? Is there any way to expedite or approach consulate to know what exactly is going on?
    Appreciate if anyone can update their recent experience(s).
    Thanks a lot!

    1. Author

      It’s been a trend these days for Dropbox. So, sit tight and wait for an update. There’s nothing you can do.

  26. Thanks Raghu for the update. Btw, do you have any idea as how long its taking normally these days to get the stamping? Am not sure what exactly they are checking with this so called Administrative Processing for H4 with no info or asking for any docs. It’s so frustrating to just wait and watch.

    1. Author

      No definite time limit. Hopefully, it’s just paperwork delay.

  27. Hello Raghu, Im on H1B and eligible for drop box at Hyderabad consulate. I prefer to attend an In Person interview along with my wife (h4) instead of drop box. Can i do that by selection ‘No’ for the question which asks if my H1B expired in last 12 months.

    1. Author

      I would call the Call Center for TravelDocs and confirm. You are essentially not speaking the facts by selecting No.

  28. My h1b visa expired in August 2017. This is stamping. I still have valid i797 till 2021. I plan to go to India in December 2018. Will I be eligible for Dropbox? It is in same category.

    1. Author

      You will be asked questions inside USTravelDocs site. That will determine if you will be eligible. Based on what you said, you should qualify for Dropbox.

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